Since Christopher Gallant released his first full-length album, Ology, last April, artists ranging from Elton John to Skrillex have praised the dynamic LA-based singer.
Gallant, who simply goes by his last name, is solitary by nature and admits he has trouble writing with other artists. Along with disliking the feeling of having someone read over his shoulder, he is wary of becoming a caricature of himself in an attempt to impress his collaborators – to fulfill their ideas or expectations of who or what he is.
But Gallant aims to develop his craft even if it means working with others, especially if the likes of Elton John come calling. “I do really want to focus more on collaborating. I think it’ll be hard for me to create another album with something that pulls me apart from that act of being alone… but I do think there are tons of other capacities in which collaborating with people who have a very equal part could be really inspiring and motivating.”
Gallant also hesitates to work with others because his lyrics are so personal that he sometimes feels embarrassed by them. But having performed his songs for so long has boosted his confidence in showing his vulnerabilities. “I have been able to become more comfortable with things that I have been used to keeping inside… Being able to say a lot of these lyrics in front of a bunch of people watching is an exercise in being more confident and more comfortable and accepting every aspect of humanity.”
The impact Gallant’s surroundings have on him is clear. Claustrophobia permeates his brooding debut EP, Zebra, which he wrote during his time at New York University. Sunny, spacious Los Angeles gave rise to the vastly more vigorous Ology, on which he intimately wraps ‘80s and ‘90s R&B and rock with silky smooth, feather-light sheets of electronic tones and leaps to Olympian heights with an untouchable falsetto.
For an artist who is heavily influenced by his physical environment, it was imperative that Gallant learned to get comfortable with the stage. A performance like his stunningly animated spot on The Tonight Show last May can be mentally taxing for a self-described introvert, but Gallant says it only amps him up.
He has spoken at length about his transition from New York to LA, so when I broach the topic, his answers spring forth instantly. He has criticised New York’s culture of “blind ambition,” of aspiring musicians who fill every second of every day with “something meaningless.” What are some examples of such “meaningless” things? “People just loved to do meetings,” he snaps right away. I imagine him straightening up in his seat on the other end of the phone, poised to strike. “They loved to talk about meetings.” He encountered too many people who seemed exclusively focused on chasing success instead of creating anything that was personal or meaningful. “They weren’t really looking to build anything. They were just looking to have something. It’d be like going on Twitter and buying 10 million followers.”
Gallant is also quick to clarify his past implications that LA is less competitive, less cliquey, and home to more real, “true” people than New York. “I think LA is probably worse. But you can’t get a second to yourself in New York… You’ve given up your freedom, and you’re allowing other people to navigate you in this ant farm and this maze.”
Having grown up in the suburb of Columbia, Maryland, Gallant is accustomed to having personal space. LA’s sprawl offers him solitude whether at home or just a short drive away. Even the city’s notoriously clogged freeways provide him with time to meditate, transforming his vehicle into a Zen centre on wheels. “Even the act of getting in your car and driving every day is psychologically enough to start to put back together the pieces of your individuality.”
Gallant relocated to LA with his best friend from college, and many of Gallant’s friends from Maryland, whom he’d known for up to 20 years, had already been living there. “It was really easy for me to move there and make it a secondary home,” he says of his transition.
His music team grew more slowly than his social network though, but it grew naturally nonetheless as he gradually befriended people who worked in the industry. “Once I completely rejected the whole notion of music as a career, it seemed like it just started [for me].”
On Ology, Gallant delves deeply within himself to understand every emotion and reaction he’s had to his life experiences thus far. But four months following the album’s release, Gallant still has not arrived at any definitive answers. “It’s very experiential. I don’t know if I could even write a list, but I definitely feel the way I’ve changed. Everything feels a lot more exciting; I feel a lot more open. All my values seem to be more together than in the past. And that feeling alone is enough for me to keep going.”
Through deep introspection and by sticking to his convictions, Gallant now finds himself teetering on the brink of breakthrough success, confirming his values in the process.
Starley’s path to platinum status has been filled with starts and stops. After years spent trying to launch her career in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, and later in London and the United States, the popstar hopeful grew depressed. Her anxieties heightened. She was ready to quit. But before she decided to shift her focus onto her next passion – fitness – she made one final attempt at music. Telling herself that God works in mysterious ways but to remain faithful in his process, Starley penned the personal salve, “Call on Me”. The song caught the attention of Australia’s Central Station Records. Since then, everything changed for Starley. Central Station’s subsidiary, Tinted Records, released “Call on Me” as her debut single last July. Epic Records re-released the track later in October. To date, the song has peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its remixed version by Aussie producer Ryan Riback has garnered over 338 million Spotify streams. Starley is currently touring North America for the first time supporting British electronic group Clean Bandit. Georgie got some time with the budding singer to talk about her mainstream ascent, dealing with mental health, and the importance of fitness
Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch first met in the 11th grade, when they started performing together in a jazz quartet known as the Flown Tones. Although the band later disbanded, Rehbein and Dausch stuck together, and the pair went on to experiment with folk, reggae and electronica sound combinations. Eventually, this led to the formation of Milky Chance and the 2014 release of their debut album, Sadnessecary, which later went on to become a multi-platinum success. Now, three and a half years later, Milky Chance is ready to embark on a new adventure with the release of Blossom. The album’s first single, “Cocoon”, continues to climb the charts as the Blossom Tour makes its way across North America. Lead vocalist Rehbein spoke to Georgie about touring, writing and how being close friends with Dausch has benefited the band. G—It’s been about 3 ½ years since the release of Sadnecessary. How has your approach changed between your first and second albums? Clemens Rehbein—I wouldn’t say it’s changed in the way I write songs, but rather how we’ve developed as musicians. The songs are made of the same foundation, but they’re influenced by our experiences on the road and playing on stage. G—Was it
Jacob Sartorius’s path to fame has become an increasingly familiar story: teenaged internet sensation breaks out into mainstream pop stardom. But what sets the 14-year-old Virginian singer apart is his self-awareness and early career savvy. In 2014, Sartorius began uploading clips of himself singing and dancing to Vine. After amassing around 500,000 followers, he switched to musical.ly, where he began uploading videos of himself lip-synching to his own songs. Whereas Vine allowed him to show off his musical theatre background, musical.ly allowed him to show off even more of his lighthearted side. Musical.ly became a new way for him to promote his music and connect with his fans. Sartorius’s fan base has grown so large that he is currently touring internationally for the first time, across seven countries, in support of his debut EP, The Last Text. Georgie caught up with him by phone in London, England a day before he performed in front of 2,500 fans at the O2 Arena. In preparing for The Last Text World Tour, Sartorius has already started developing the work ethic necessary to endure major pop stardom. For 15 to 20 days leading up to the tour, he worked with his voice and movement coaches for up to ten